Thursday, 14 December 2006

Don't burn your bridges

Just a followup on my last post and reflecting on Alexs blog about when to kill code.

There's a concept of scope that needs to be taken into account. The scope that I had in mind for my previous post is the day to day code your building. If your about to build a bridge and you dig a hole in the wrong place for the foundation. Back out of it! Don't carry on and "just make the bridge fit".

However, as in Alexs case, sometimes the whole "bridge" is in question once its build. There's fundamental changes you want to make. This can be a lot harder. There's a number of options.

1. Modify the existing bridge in a disciplined and engineered way. This often has a lot of challenges and you often have to work within some limiting constraints. But it can be a good option. It really depends on how fundamentally different you need the bridge to be.

2. Build a new bridge near the old bridge that meets all your needs, provide transitioning roads from the old bridge to the new bridge. But this also has problems, the transitioning from the old bridge to the new bridge may be quite difficult.

3. Build another bridge in another location with no transitions and just hope traffic will change over to using this bridge.

4. Burn the old bridge down and start again. This is probably the worst option, during this time no one can cross the bridge, you effectively destroy a bunch of value and take ages to get the value back.

Everything has pros and cons, there's no clean easy "right" answer. Software is a bit more flexible than concrete structures so we can exploit that to some degree, but there are always tradeoffs, especially when your creating platforms that other people build things on top of. However whatever option you take, in general, I don't think you should burn your bridges.